Saturday, June 23, 2007

Push With Back Leg Part 2

I came to realise yet something today while practising Yang-style taijiquan. My teacher always tells me to relax my kua, especially when I am shifting my weight. Right now, I usually am aware and try to relax my kua before I shift my weight to my back leg. Then, when pushing forward, I use my back leg to push. I realised today that when pushing with my back leg's strength, I was not relaxing my kua enough. This actually means that when pushing, my back leg's kua is actually resisting. Which is why when I push and my opponent resists my force, we will end up in a deadlock, and I am unable to use his force against him.

By relaxing my kua even when pushing forward, I should then be able to absorb my opponent's force should he choose to resist my push, and subsequent redirect his force back to him. I do wish to try this out during the next pushing hands session, but I am still unable to relax my kua and still push. Guess this means a lot more practice!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Take Your Time

Hurrying is not going to help. More haste, less speed. It takes time to learn a skill, and taiji is no different. If we expect to see results after one or two years, then why would people spend their whole lives studying taiji and still continue to pursue it?

Living in our modern world, we expect to see instant results. Why wait for the webpage to load? Switch to 10Mbps broadband. We have instant noodles. Why search for a payphone, use a handphone instead. We expect everything to take less time than before. And taiji is no different.

But taiji is different. Just as it takes time to learn calligraphy, time to learn to read, time to learn to swim, it takes time to learn taiji, and time to learn how to apply taiji. Hurrying is not going to help at all. In fact, hurrying may be detrimental to improving at taiji, delaying your learning journey.

The saying goes that it takes 10 years before you can truly call yourself a taiji practitioner. But that was in the past, when people practise day in, day out, seven days a week. Nowadays, if we only practise pushing hands once a week, and only two hours each time, can we even expect to get close in 10 years? If we only practise once a week, then 7 years of work can only truly count as 1 year of practise.

There is no short cut. Practise often, practise hard, and be patient. While a better understanding of taiji principles will help, you still need practise in order to improve. Don't feel disheartened just because you don't think you are improving. You won't see results in one or two years. But give yourself time, and you will find that, with practise, in one or two years time, you will definitely be better than before.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What It Means To Relax

My teacher tells me that to relax the arms, you have to first relax the kua. Thinking about this, I think I am starting to understand what he means.

When someone pushes your arm, if your arms are relaxed, but your kua is not, what happens is that the balloon that your arms form with your body becomes flattened by your opponent's force. But when your kua is relaxed, when your opponent pushes your arms, the balloon doesn't really flatten. Instead, your whole upper body moves back to absorb his force.

But you control your movement. You don't move straight back in the direction of his force. As your kua moves to absorb his force, at the same time, your kua is moving to change the direction of his force. And thus you are able to redirect his force against him.

So being like jelly is not relaxing. You relax so that you can become a balloon, an elastic rubber ball, capable of deflecting someone's force back at him.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Peng Like Rubber

I was a bit frustrated today during my pushing hands session. Somehow, I was unable to use my opponent's brute force even though he was using a lot of force and I was trying my best to relax. Thinking back, I guess it is because I don't really understand how to relax and how to peng properly. My teacher always like to draw the analogy of peng to being a balloon. After today's session, I think I am finally getting a glimpse of understanding about what peng really is.

Think about a concrete ball. When you strike a hammer at it, it will crack. Then imagine a rubber ball, and when you strike the same hammer at it, instead of cracking, the hammer bounces back. This is how to peng properly. When you relax your arms, you are not letting your arms hang soft. When your opponent pushes, your arms absorb the force, then bounces back. Your arms and your body forms the rubber ball, while your waist (and kua) is used to turn the rubber ball to deflect away your opponent's force.

When your opponent pushes the rubber ball, your body must move as a whole, using your kua to absorb whatever force that your arms (the rubber ball) cannot, and then using your kua to direct his force back towards him. Not resisting his force doesn't mean you let him push in all the way. Your arms must still bounce back at some point in time. What I have been doing wrong is that I let him push in first, then when I cannot let him push in anymore, I start to shift my weight behind to absorb more of his force. What I should do is to absorb his force by moving my kua, at the same time trying to keep my arms (the rubber ball) as intact as possible, yet allowing for it to flatten a bit if need be. But when my arms flatten, there must be a point to bounce back.

I'll try this out and see if it works. Hopefully, my understanding is correct and this helps me to improve. But then, even if it is wrong, it is still a lesson, since I then know what I shouldn't do.